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Japan Airlines said that maintenance teams discovered white smoke coming from a battery while inspecting a 787 that was being prepared to fly to Bangkok from Tokyo's Narita Airport.

The malfunction, which JAL media relations officer Yang Chen described as a battery failure, made warning lights flash in the cockpit panel. The cause of the malfunction wasn't immediately clear and was being investigated, Chen told NBC News.

Reuters reported that an unidentified liquid was coming from the main battery, and alarms in the cockpit indicated faults with the power pack and its charger.

Boeing said Tuesday it appears that a single battery cell "vented," or released gas.

The latest incident involving Boeing's newest jetliner comes a year after overheating batteries on 787s prompted aviation regulators worldwide to ground the aircraft for more than three months.

Boeing said changes to the 787's lithium ion battery after last year's problems appear to have worked as designed. The changes include a tougher box to hold the battery, and measures to contain any short-circuit or fire.

There were no passengers on board at the time of the incident, about 2 a.m. ET Tuesday, or 4 p.m. local time Wednesday. The aircraft was replaced and the flight departed to Bangkok on time.

- Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.